You are considered overweight based on your BMI and have weight-related health problems or a family history of such problems.
You have a waist that measures more than 40 inches if you are a man or more than 35 inches if you are a woman.
We all know that it’s hard to stick to a weight-loss diet that works over the long term. Choose a healthy weight loss plan that’s right for you, and that takes into account your likes and dislikes, and includes a variety of foods that give you enough calories and nutrients for good health.
Picking a plan that fits your lifestyle will make it easier for you to stick with the changes long term.
Congress has agreed to extend unemployment insurance and payroll tax cuts for two months. The bill passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the President on December 23, 2011. Read the text of the bill.
Over the next few days, we will be sharing tips to help you stick to some of the most common New Year’s resolutions that we make every year. Today we’re sharing tips on how to get out of debt.
Do you want to take control of your debt in 2012? Many people face a financial crisis at some time in their lives because of personal or family illness, the loss of a job, or overspending. It can seem overwhelming, but debt can often be overcome.
There is no such thing as a quick and easy way to get out of debt. Turning to a business that offers help in solving debt problems may seem like a reasonable solution when your bills become unmanageable. But before you do business with any company, check it out with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau.
The good news is that there are realistic steps that you can take to get your debt under control.
Develop a Budget
Do a realistic assessment of how much money you take in, and how much money you spend. Start by listing your income from all sources, then, write down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant. This will help you track your spending, identify necessary expenses, and prioritize the rest. The goal is to make sure you can make ends meet on the basics: housing, food, health care, insurance, and education.
Contact Your Creditors
Contact your creditors immediately if you’re having trouble making ends meet. Tell them why it’s difficult for you, and try to work out a modified payment plan that reduces your payments to a more manageable level. Don’t wait until your accounts have been turned over to a debt collector. At that point, your creditors have given up on you.
Deal with Debt Collectors
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the federal law that dictates how and when a debt collector may contact you. A debt collector may not call you before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or while you’re at work if the collector knows that your employer doesn’t approve of the calls. Collectors may not harass you, lie, or use unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. And they must honor a written request from you to stop further contact.
Manage Your Car and Home Loans
If you stop making payments, lenders can repossess your car or foreclose on your house.
By Felicia Chou, a program analyst in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery at the Environmental Protection Agency
'Tis the season to be gushing about the new electronic gadgets you've received for the holidays, and figure out what to do with your old ones. Sure, you could keep them in your closet or attic, waiting for the day VHS tapes are all the rage again, or when radio-sized phones are back in style. Maybe that old TV can be used as a giant paperweight. But there are plenty of better alternatives to put your unwanted electronics to use.
I’ve had this laptop since college and believe it or not, it still works. Well, besides the fact that the touchpad and keyboard aren’t working; and I have to keep it plugged in because the battery is pretty much dead. If, like me, you don’t want to part with your old computer just yet, see if you can upgrade the hardware or software to put it on par with your new gadgets. In my case, I would replace the battery and the keyboard, and plug in a new wireless mouse. Or, after clearing out your personal data (PDF), you can donate working electronics to those who need them.
The next best thing is to recycle your old gadgets, but before you start carting loads of electronics to your nearest electronics collection program or drop-off point, check if they’re working with a third-party certified recycler. You’re probably thinking, third-party what? Well, companies that recycle electronics can be certified by outside organizations (like R2 Solutions and eStewards) and regularly audited to make sure that your electronics will be managed safely. That way, you can rest assured that your old gadget is being recycled in a way that is protective of our health and the environment. Check out R2 Solutions and e-Stewards for a list of certified recyclers.
So, why shouldn’t you just let your electronics sit at home and collect dust, or worse, get thrown away in the garbage?
Electronics are made of precious metals and materials, like gold, copper, and glass. If they’re thrown away, all that precious material that required a lot of energy to mine and manufacture will go to waste. When you recycle your electronics, those precious materials can be used in other products, such as electric cars or watches. You’ll also be preventing the pollution that would have been caused by having to mine and manufacture raw materials. In fact, recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power over 3,000 US homes for a year.
So while you’re having a blast trying out all the new features on your shiny new gadgets, just remember to put your old ones to good use. I, for one, will be looking forward to the new battery and keyboard to keep my beloved laptop working for as long as I can.
Gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region have recovered and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and in portions of adjoining states, will be dropped from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants.
With more than 4,000 wolves thriving in the region, the program has surpassed its recovery goal, and the wolves have made a successful comeback. The wolves no longer need federal protection.
Eight Things You Should Know Before You Buy A Daily Deal
Frugalistas looking to snag a bargain on a massage or a fancy dinner at new restaurant can spend a lot of time browsing daily deal sites. While these sites provide the opportunity to try new businesses at a discounted price, shoppers need to be sure they read the fine print on their deals and understand the sites’ terms of service agreements to avoid complications when they redeem their deal vouchers.
These tips will help you better understand the daily deal sites so you can shop safely and enjoy the deals you purchase.
Check the expiration and black-out dates
Most daily deals have expiration dates. Plan accordingly so you use your voucher before the deal expires. Make sure you check for blackout dates too. Some of the popular vacation deals can only be redeemed during certain times of the year.
Do your research
Spend five or ten minutes reading reviews of the product or service you’re thinking about purchasing. If the company has a lot of bad reviews, you may want to skip the purchase, no matter how great the deal seems to be.
Understand how you can use the deal
Some deals you can use more than once until the entire amount of the deal is gone, but other coupons you have to use all at once. In general, you can’t combine a daily deal with another coupon or promotion. Read the conditions of your specific deal before you buy. If you’ve read the fine print, but still don’t understand everything, ask questions before you buy. Many of the daily deal sites have a frequently asked questions section or an area of the site where they handle questions about specific deals.
Verify which locations accept your voucher
Some deals for chains are only valid at certain stores. Check to make sure the location closest to you is one of the participating stores or else you might have to go out of your way to use the deal.
Know when your credit card will be charged
Some sites won’t charge you until after a certain number of deals have been purchased; other sites will charge you immediately or at the close of a business day. After you purchase a deal, keep an eye on your credit card statement to make sure you are charged correctly.
Check the site’s refund policy
Some sites will refund your money if you are disappointed in a deal. Others will refund your money if a merchant goes out of business before your deal’s expiration date. Some won’t refund your money at all. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with a site’s refund rules before you make a purchase.
Know whom to contact with problems
In most cases, the daily deal sites can’t help you solve problems with the company you bought the deal from. You will need to work with the company directly. If you have an issue, stay calm and state exactly what happened and how you would like the situation to be resolved. You can use the tips from the USA.gov sample complaint letter to help fix the problem.
I filed a tax extension for 2011. Then accidentally missed my extension deadline. Is there an easy way to avoid complication when filing in 2012? Any preferred steps to take?
If you missed the deadline to file your taxes, you should file them as soon as possible.
Filing a past due return may not be as difficult as you think and you should file regardless of whether or not you can make the full payment. These steps can help you avoid owing money on next year’s return. Depending on the circumstances, people who file late may qualify for a payment plan.
Today marks the winter solstice, officially beginning the winter season in the United States and all of the northern hemisphere.
Solstices are the two dates during the year where the Earth’s position in its orbit and on its axis is most directly tilted toward or away from the Sun.
The winter solstice is when the Earth is tilted away from the Sun, creating the shortest day of the year. Today also marks the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere, known as the summer solstice.
Starting tomorrow, there will be a little bit more sunlight each day, until we reach the summer solstice in June and the process reverses itself.
By the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs
We all know that the holiday season is peak travel time. Although airports will be crowded, that doesn’t have to ruin your holiday travel experience. Whether you are packing your bags for the sunny beaches of the Caribbean or headed to the snowy slopes of Switzerland, we hope you will take advantage of the following tips to help make your holiday travels safe, smooth, and stress-free.
Enroll in STEP
Record your travel plans with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free online service that allows us to better assist you if there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis where you are traveling. You’ll also receive updated travel information for countries you plan to visit. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your express authorization.
Apply early for your passport
Did you know that a U.S. passport book or passport card is now required for land and sea travel to Mexico and the Caribbean? If you do not have a passport and you plan to travel outside of the United States this holiday season, apply for your passport now. Our current commitment for passport processing time is four to six weeks for routine service and two to three weeks for expedited service. There are 26 passport agencies and more than 8,800 passport acceptance facilities across the United States. Passport application forms are available on our website.
Sign your passport and fill in the emergency information
Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport. Most passports are valid for ten years. Write the contact information in pencil so you can change it as needed over time.
Leave copies of itinerary, passport data page, and credit card
Sure, you’ve enrolled in STEP so that your family and the State Department can contact you in an emergency, but you should also leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends at home. Leave a copy of your credit card too; in an emergency, the credit card company can help your family locate you.
Check your overseas medical insurance coverage
Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance. Medical treatment and evacuations can cost thousands of dollars – some countries won’t allow you in through customs unless you can show proof of medical insurance!
Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws
Take a moment to locate the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your destination country. This can come in handy if you need the assistance of a consular officer.
Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime
Practice the same safety tips you would in any unfamiliar place: do not wear clothing or jewelry that would attract attention and do not carry excessive amounts of money; do not leave unattended luggage in public areas; do not accept packages from strangers; and do not travel with anything you’d hate to lose.
Contact us in an emergency
We are here to help you. Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the United States are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on our website, or you can call the Office of Overseas Citizen Services for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747 (if calling from the U.S. or Canada), or 202-501-4444 (if calling from overseas).
From the Bureau of Consular Affairs to you, we wish you good cheer this holiday season and safe travels!
Shopping online is more prevalent during the holiday season than most any other time of year. While you are trying to avoid the crowds, make sure to stay aware of the dangers of online shopping. Scammers and cyber criminals know how to confuse and trick shoppers into giving them valuable financial information all while you think you’re simply buying a great gift. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) offers helpful tips for avoiding an online shopping disaster:
Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
For online auctions or bids, diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted.
If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
what is the name of the new program Pres. Obama put into effect a few days ago for refinacing a mortage
The Making Home Affordable Program can help homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments and get a more stable loan at today’s low rates. If owning a home is no longer affordable or desirable, the program offers homeowners a way out in order to avoid foreclosure. There are also options for unemployed homeowners and homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth.
The last of American troops in Iraq are coming home over the next few days. Over the past nine years, hundreds of thousands of troops have been sent abroad to Iraq. As we mark the end of America’s involvement in the war in Iraq, President Obama has asked Americans to show our veterans and their families that they have the thanks of a grateful nation.
Joining Forces is a national initiative to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. You can find service opportunities, pledge service hours, or write a message of thanks or support to a military family.
On December 17, 1903, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful flight in a heavier than air, mechanically propelled airplane.
After trying for several years for a successful flight, the brothers from Dayton, Ohio finally achieved their goal in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The first flight, flown by Orville Wright, lasted 12 seconds for a span of 120 feet. For the first time, a powered flying machine had taken off from level ground, traveled through the air, and landed under the control of its pilot.
Four successful flights took place that day, each one gaining length on the previous, with the final one flying 852 feet for 59 seconds.
Congress marks every December 17th as Wright Brothers Day to commemorate their historic first flight in Kitty Hawk.
Hello, How to make sure that I've realy won the Green Card? I got many emails but Im not sure and not sure to send the money? who can give me the answer?Thanks
The U.S. Department of State runs the Diversity Visa Lottery, sometimes called the green card lottery. The Diversity Visa Lottery program makes up to 55,000 diversity visas available annually. Only people who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States are eligible to apply.
The Department of State will never e-mail you or ask for money to apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery. The only way you can apply is by visiting http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/.
Distracted driving is a dangerous and common practice —and it’s becoming an even bigger problem on the nation’s roads as more drivers are text messaging while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the percentage of drivers who text messaged or manipulated their mobile devices while driving went up significantly, from 0.6 percent in 2009 to 0.9 percent to 2010. The latest federal figures show more than 3,000 people died in car accidents in 2010 because of drivers who were texting, using a phone or were distracted by something else.
Texting and Driving Can Be a Lethal Combination
Distractions behind the wheel include eating, talking to other passengers, or changing the radio, but there is one that is especially dangerous: reading or writing text messages. Doing this increases the risk of an accident by 2,300 percent.
But you don’t have to be typing away to be at risk of having or causing an accident:
Drivers who use mobile devices are four times more likely to have an accident and injure themselves or others.
Using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent, the legal limit in most states.
Using a cell phone can reduce the brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
Tips for Changing Your Habits
Habits can be hard to break, but these tips can help you get started:
Turn off your phone before driving away, or store it somewhere where you can’t reach it.
If you have an urgent call you need to attend, find a safe place to park before using your phone.
Ask another passenger to answer your calls or messages.
Designate a copilot that can help you use other electronics in the car such as your navigation system or the radio.
How to Talk to Your Teens
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In fact, 16 percent of young drivers involved in fatal accidents were driving distracted.
There are several things parents or guardians can do to help reduce the risk of distracted driving in the family. First, set the example by refusing to drive distracted. In addition, you should:
Talk to your children about the dangers of distracted driving.
Make a commitment that no family member will drive and use mobile devices at the same time.
Establish consequences for not following the rules.
Speak up if the driver of the vehicle is using a cell phone.
Take the time to get to know your state’s cell phone laws and share them with your children.
Holiday Tip of the Day: Fly Through Airport Security
You can get through the airport security line faster by traveling with unwrapped gifts and following the 3-1-1 rule when carrying on liquids, including liquid food items like cranberry sauce and gravy. You can also use the My TSA app or mobile website if you’re at the airport and need last minute information about what you can and can’t bring through security. Learn more about flying with food or gifts.
President Obama declared Human Rights Week beginning Saturday, December 10th. Human Rights Week celebrates our basic freedoms and renews the United States’ commitment to supporting and advancing every person’s right to human dignity.
The United States works with other governments, organizations and institutions to promote and work towards human rights for all. The State Department pushes to:
Hold governments accountable to their obligations under universal human rights norms and international human rights instruments;
Promote greater respect for human rights, including freedom from torture, freedom of expression, press freedom, women’s rights, children’s rights, and the protection of minorities;
Promote the rule of law, seek accountability, and change cultures of impunity;
Assist efforts to reform and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; and
Coordinate human rights activities with important allies, including the European Union, and regional organizations.
Holiday buffets are convenient ways to entertain a crowd, but leaving food out for long periods of time can invite bacteria that cause foodborne illness. To keep your holiday foods safe, cook them thoroughly, use shallow containers, never leave them sitting out for more than two hours, and keep them at the appropriate temperature. Keep your guests healthy with these food safety tips.
Scientists are working to discover the “god particle” — an element some people think is the key to figuring out how we came to exist in the universe.
Officially called the Higgs boson, the “god particle” remains a bit of a scientific mystery. It is the only undiscovered part of the Standard Model of physics, which describes the basic building blocks of all matter in the universe.
Two recent experiments have brought us closer to identifying the “god particle.” In one experiment, scientists smash together protons, small positively charged parts of an atom, at near light speed using an instrument called the Large Hadron Collider. They are hoping to recreate the nanoseconds that happened after the Big Bang in hopes of learning more about this particle.
Results of the recent experiments are far from conclusive, but many particle scientists believe they may be on the right track.
Has legilation been enacted to ban use of cell phones while driving trucks
Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board unanimously voted to ban the use of portable electronic devices while driving, except in emergency situations, for all drivers. The National Transportation Safety Board can make recommendations, but cannot pass laws. Each state is responsible for passing its own laws about distracted driving.
The holiday season includes many opportunities to reduce waste, recycle, and reuse items. Think about the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money. If you plan to send greeting cards, consider purchasing ones that are made of recycled paper, or save postage costs and reduce waste by sending electronic greetings. Consider these additional ideas to reduce waste, save money, and help the environment.